Returning Veterans Can’t Find Work, Go Homeless
CHICAGO (AP) — Orlando Ocasio has a Purple Heart. What he needs now is a job.
As a member of the Marine Corps, Ocasio stormed Baghdad in 2003. A year later on his second deployment, he and his team were ambushed on their way to Fallujah, and he was shot in the leg and suffered shrapnel wounds. When he came home in 2004, he got a job at a factory making airline parts, earning about $42,000 a year. He bought a home in the suburbs and settled down with his wife, Monica, to raise their two young boys.
“Then the economy went down and I was laid off, and as soon as that happened we couldn’t pay our mortgage, put food on the table,” said Ocasio, 31, who has now been unemployed for two years and has suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder since the ambush.
“We were about 90 days from being homeless.”
Ocasio joined the ranks of the 240,000 unemployed veterans from the Iraq and Afghanistan conflicts. Unemployment tops 20 percent among 18-to-24-year-old veterans, compared with a national rate of about 9 percent, Department of Labor figures show. And the situation is expected to worsen after 10,000 service members return from Afghanistan and 46,000 come home from Iraq by year’s end — many wounded or suffering from mental trauma.
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Source: Associated Press